Archives for December 2017

How successful will the Subaru Ascent be? [w/ poll]

The new Subaru Ascent may well be one of the most overlooked debuts from the LA Auto show at the end of November. The reason for this is not hard to find – to many people it is yet another predictable entry into the mid-sized SUV segment, which predictably looks like an inflated Subaru Forester or Outback, with little of the flourish of the Viziv-7 concept that preceded it remaining. But is it right to dismiss the new Subaru as another also-ran?

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US sales: November 2017, models

After discussing the US auto brand sales ranking for November, let’s zoom in on the models ranking.

Top 10

Nissan Rogue

November saw some unexpected sales surges in the Top 10. While nothing exciting happened in the Top 3, five of the remaining seven models registered growth rates of over 20%! Of these the sales growth experienced by the new Toyota Camry is fully expected, as the new more exciting model seems to be getting early purchase with customers, while the new Honda CR-V is once again seeing good sales growth. The bigger surprises came from market stalwarts such as Nissan Rogue, whose sales were up by over 35% and which came within 1,000 units of outselling Ram Pickup in third, as well as Honda Civic and Ford Explorer, the latter of which placed in the Top 10 for the first time ever! (In fact, it may be the first time a Mid-sized SUV has placed in the Top 10, a place normally occupied by Large Pickups, Compact and Mid-sized cars, and Compact SUVs. By comparison, Toyota RAV4 and Ford Escape had a quiet month in eight and ninth place.

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Third generation Mercedes-Benz CLS: hit or miss?


The first generation Mercedes-Benz CLS was launched in late 2004 and stood out with revolutionary styling for a brand that had mostly been very conservative in the design department until that time. It had simple and elegant lines, and especially the character line running from the front wheel arches to the rear lights was a great touch. However, in my opinion it hasn’t aged very well. If I see one on the road nowadays, it looks a lot older than the 7-13 years it currently is. The strange shape of the headlights is mostly due to that, but also the fact that those headlights seem to fade a bit over the years. Perhaps it also doesn’t help that some (second or third) owners have made customized “improvements” to their cars, including oversized wheels. The second generation, launched in 2011, fixed the weird headlight shape but also lost its simple and elegant design. In line with the Mercedes-Benz styling of this period, it had expressive lines on its sides and pronounced rear wheel arches. The latter actually work quite well on the CLS, simply because it was more coherent with the rest of the car, as opposed to the the E-Class, where they were ditched during that model’s facelift. The addition of the Shooting Brake version gave the 2nd generation CLS another boost in positioning the CLS as the odd one out in the Mercedes-Benz line-up. The proportions of both the CLS coupe and the Shooting Brake worked much better than those of the smaller CLA versions.

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US sales: November 2017, brands

The see-sawing we have observed in the US market in the past few months continued in November, with a sales increase of 1.4%. This follows a decline in October, growth in September, and eight straight months of decline before that. As a result of the larger decline in sales earlier in the year the market is still down 1.2% YTD, but this still looks much better than the position it was just four months ago in July, when it was down 2.6% YTD. It is still much too early to talk about a recovery per se, but the signs are the worst decline has been halted for now.

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European car sales analysis October 2017 – models

Peugeot_208-sales-figures-EuropeAfter looking at the October 2017 car brand sales in Europe, let’s take a closer look at individual model sales figures. For the last two months we’ve had a newcomer to the podium, with the Skoda Octavia scoring a best-ever 3rd place in August followed by the Nissan Qashqai jumping to a surprise 2nd place in September, and in October we welcome back the Peugeot 208 on the podium for the first time since May 2013, marking only the 5th time the 208 scores this high. For comparison: its predecessor 207 finished on top of the ranking in 2007 and in 2nd place a year later. The 208 is not far behind its rival Renault Clio and outsells all other subcompact cars this month. Not to discount its performance as sales are up 14,5%, but it also benefits from unusual circumstances at some of its rivals with both the Ford Fiesta (still down 10,4% but back up to #4 now that deliveries of the new generation are picking up traction) and the Volkswagen Polo (-41% to #22) hampered by their generation changes and the Opel/Vauxhall Corsa (-18,3% to #15) hurt by a reduction in fleet deliveries by the brand’s new owner PSA, as well by a decline in overall UK volume. The two French subcompacts trail the market leader Volkswagen Golf which is impressively up by 24%, its fourth straight month of growth (and its second with double digits) after a 14-month losing streak. An impressive rebound considering  its facelift has been only minor in terms of cosmetics and the VW Group has added a number of crossovers to its line-up that are expected to cannibalize sales from the regular hatchbacks and station wagons.

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European car sales analysis October 2017 – brands

European-car-sales-graph-October_2017European sales of passenger cars returned to growth in October 2017 after a one-month decline in September. 1,2 Million new cars were registered in Europe, which leads to a 10-month figure of 13,1 million, an increase of 3,5% on the same period last year and more than the 2014 full year figure. That means 2017 is very likely going to be the fourth consecutive year of growth after hitting a low of 12,3 million sales in 2013. Sales of regular cars (hatchbacks, station wagons, sedans, coupes and convertibles) are up by 0,5% (YTD: -0,5%), while MPV sales are down by 5,5% (YTD: -11%) and sales of crossovers and SUVs are booming just like in the US and China: up 19,8% (YTD: +16,7%).

Among the five biggest markets Spain, France (both +13,7%) and Italy (+7,1%) outgrow the European market while Germany (+3,9%) trails and the United Kingdom continues to struggle with another double digit loss (-12,2%). Besides the UK, only Ireland (-13,8%) and Finland (-4,6%) lose volume in October, while Bulgaria (+41,3%), Lithuania (+33%) and Hungary (+30,4%) show impressive growth rates. Year-to-date, Italy (+8,9%) and Spain (+7,3%) are the fastest growing among the five largest markets, followed by France (+4,8%) and Germany (+2,3%). In contrast, UK sales are down by 4,6% so far in 2017.

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Warm welcome or cold shoulder: Alfa Romeo Giulia [w/poll]

Alfa_Romeo_Giulia-US-car-sales-statisticsWarm welcome or cold shoulder is a new series here on, where we discuss the sales performance of new models in their first year or so on the market. How have they performed in terms of sales: above or under expectations? What could be the reasons for their success or failure? And what do we expect for their future – will it improve or get worse?

First we tackle the Alfa Romeo Giulia, simply because it’s one of the most talked-about launches in recent years and by far the most popular car here on CSB in terms of pageviews. As always, feel free to join the discussion by commenting below or answering the poll at the bottom.

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Is Nissan right to replace the Juke with the Kicks? [w/ poll]

To me one of the biggest surprises of the LA Auto Show was Nissan’s announcement that the Kicks will replace the Juke in the Subcompact SUV segment. Is this a copout for the once-bold manufacturer, or an astute business decision?

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